Lincoln To Attempt Non-Terrible Advertising Campaign

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1st Gear: If You Can't Make Better Cars, At Least Make Better Ads

Hey, remember that time Lincoln gave Jimmy Fallon a crap ton of money to Twitter-source some nonsense to make a terrible Super Bowl ad that told you nothing about the car?

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Then remember when they followed up with a car on fire? And then they hosted some fashion collections, like the one above, which appears to be from a company that designs prison uniforms for futuristic equine gulags.

You can measure just how much of a success those ads were by reading one comment from Lincoln's ad agency creative guy to Karl Henkel.

“These are definitely more pointed and tactical in their nature,” said Jon Pearce, executive vice president and chief creative officer of Hudson Rouge, Lincoln’s ad agency, on Tuesday. “We’ve tried to make spots that display some rational proof points for Lincoln.”

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Ya herd? These new ads are going to be tactical and rational, as opposed to random and nonsensical.

We've put one above where a yuppie, organic co-op shopping, elbowy-lovemaking couple interrogates a car just like they were interviewing a surrogate. Like normal people!

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I think the idea here is that it's hard to have an emotional attachment to something so pretty yet dull, so perhaps they can appeal to people who think they're smart (they read all the articles in the New Yorker and paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell like all the time) and ended up marrying pretty but dull people for mostly rational reasons.

JUST A THEORY!

2nd Gear: Beige Continues To Bite Back

Illustration for article titled Lincoln To Attempt Non-Terrible Advertising Campaign
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An attorney for Jean Bookout told a jury yesterday that her Toyota Camry accelerated out of control and crashed, injuring her and killing her friend. Toyota knew about this defect since 2004, she argued. This comes from a Bloomberg report on the trial in Oklahoma and gives some light into the strategies of the plaintiff and defendant.

Toyota's lawyers are making a different argument:

"After taking the wrong exit toward an unfamiliar road, 76-year-old Jean Bookout made a mistake in the operation of her 2005 Camry," Bibb said. He suggested that she may have pressed the accelerator instead of the brake as she left the highway.

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Yep. Their argument seems to be: Old people + Camrys = disaster.

3rd Gear: BMW Is Big In Asia And In The U.S.

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I have this theory that, ultimately, many Chinese and American buyers are terrible in exactly the same way. They want bigger, they want cheaper, and they want four doors and a trunk instead of a hatch.

While nearly everyone is flopping around uselessly in Europe trying to sell cars, BMW had a 6.7% global rise thanks to a boom in the U.S., where sales rose 8.3%, and in Asia, where they jumped by 18% year-over-year.

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Per the AP, this big gain includes a great month for Rolls Royce which saw 333 cars go out the door.

4th Gear: Bankrupt Battery Maker Tries Hybrids Instead Of EVs

Illustration for article titled Lincoln To Attempt Non-Terrible Advertising Campaign
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That huge demand for electric cars that didn't exactly happen (with the exception of Tesla) and, well, other issues, doomed A123 Systems to bankruptcy before being purchased by China's Wanxiang Automotive Group for a song.

Now what's their plan? Making gasoline engines more efficient, reports the WSJ.

That means more work supporting hybrids.

"We have decided to focus our efforts where the market is evolving more quickly," said Mr. Forcier. "We are very excited about having a more moderate plan, based on steady and solid growth."

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He went on to describe the expectations for the battery industry a few years ago as "in the euphoria territory."

5th Gear: More New Automotive Jobs… In Mexico

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While there's been a recovery in automotive jobs in the U.S., no one is booming quite like Mexico these days. It's cheap, somewhat skilled labor and access to the U.S. market is hard to top.

Thus it's not a big surprise to hear from Bloomberg that Chrysler is adding 500 workers to an engine plant in Ramos Arizpe.

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It sounds like they'll be working on powertrains for the new Ram ProMaster Ram Van Man Van, but the article doesn't make it entirely clear.

Reverse: And Nothing Of Value Was Lost

On this day in 1992, 18-year-old Michelle Knapp is watching television in her parents' living room in Peekskill, New York when she hears a thunderous crash in the driveway. Alarmed, Knapp ran outside to investigate. What she found was startling, to say the least: a sizeable hole in the rear end of her car, an orange 1980 Chevy Malibu; a matching hole in the gravel driveway underneath the car; and in the hole, the culprit: what looked like an ordinary, bowling-ball–sized rock. It was extremely heavy for its size (it weighed about 28 pounds), shaped like a football and warm to the touch; also, it smelled vaguely of rotten eggs. The next day, a curator from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City confirmed that the object was a genuine meteorite.

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[HISTORY]

Neutral: Who Is Doing The Worst Job Advertising Luxury? Lincoln? Acura? Lexus?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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DISCUSSION

Okay, granted - the Jimmy Fallon thing was poorly conceived.

But the whole fashion show thing, actually, was an amusing (if notably misguided) advertising attempt that actually deserves some credit for being well-conceived from a philosophical standpoint. You see, despite what the armchair assholes that comment around here think, Lincoln can't just make a RWD supercar/sportscar/sedan/whatever and then make everything all better. FoMoCo simply doesn't have the resources necessary to do so, and Lincoln doesn't yet have the image to do so.

Lincoln has been trying very hard to get people to remember that it was once one of the automotive greats - hence the car shows where they showed up with nothing but vintage and classic Lincolns. They've also been trying to work very, very hard to make something out of the scrounges that they've been handed. And truth be told, they've done a surprisingly adept job at it, having created a car capable of out-slaloming an M5 with a simple tire swap out of a common midsize platform.

But even beyond the lack of resources that is plaguing Lincoln right now, the fact that they have so little market demographic is absolutely killing them. They need the sales that come from a stable customer base to fuel their turn around. Most who buy cars or have knowledge of cars will anywhere but Lincoln, as they can find arguably better offerings that are safer choices. The folks at Lincoln know that, and they know that as right now, there is no way in hell they can ever win an image battle with people already familiar with them.

What, then should they do?

Go somewhere new, where people don't know them, and will be less likely to judge so quickly. They needed to try to reach out to a different demographic that wouldn't even traditionally think much about cars in any meaningful way, and try to put up a good image in the process. If they can do that, if they can win over a new demographic, then they can establish themselves in a niche and bolster their customer base.

That's exactly what Lincoln needs to do, and that's exactly what Lincoln tried to do. They deserve kudos for that.

That being said, I'm not sure what it was that made them think that hosting a fashion collection was a good way to do that. Fashion is a fickle thing, particularly to those who don't understand the industry. Like people from the automotive industry. At least they had the guts to try, and it was better than nothing. It was also notably better than the Jimmy Fallon crap.

Still, though, Lincoln might actually be on to something if they look at it from the right perspective.

It's very, very easy to be critical of Lincoln right now. So easy, in fact, that it's second only to insulting Toyota on our list of favorite things to do. But you know what, let's try to be constructive here - we know what Lincoln's plight is right now. We know that they have no resources and no image.What, then, ought they to do to move forward? And don't spout that stereotypical, poorly-thought-out crap like "BuIlD A nEW CoNTInenTALZ!!!" crap. That's not going to happen, and that goes right back to the lack of resources and image issues.

Instead, try to come up with productive ways that they can actually work on building up their image and their resources so that they eventually can build that new Continental. What should they do, and why? How should they do it? How should they advertise? How should they positions themselves?